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Pre-Winterail Trip Featuring Oregon Coast Historic Railway 3/12-15/2023

by Chris Guenzler

This trip's purpose was to attend Winterail 2023 via finishing visiting the covered bridges in Oregon, the Oregon Coast Historic Railway in Coos Bay and the next day, visiting Yaquina Pacific Railroad Museum in Toledo. We hoped to find railroad items and a few stations before I showed my program at the Railfan and Railroad Slide Show the evening before Winterail. On the way to Laws, California, we planned to find more railroad stations before participating in our first Lerro photo charter at the Laws Railroad Museum with Southern Pacific 18 on March 23rd, then head home Friday. It should be a very interesting trip.

Elizabeth and I awoke at our apartment and after our morning preparations, finished packing and departed, driving CA Highway 22 to Interstate 5 to CA Highway 99. We found that the highway was closed north of Delano due to flooding so we took Lerdo Highway to CA Highway 43 and switched drivers from Elizabeth to me. This involved a detour due to water on a portion of CA Highway 43. We drove back almost to CA 99 then turned north and zig-zagged, and at CA Highway 43, slowly went through about three inches of water before getting on that route. At the detour point, a Caltrans worker was surprised to see us and two other cars when passed him and his road closure sign. We then continued north on CA Highway 43 at stopped at Allensworth siding for a dead train.

BNSF 8121 East stopped for water over the tracks. Once we returned back to CA Highway 99 north of Fresno, we saw five Union Pacific trains moving and then I drove us to Elk Grove for linner at Jersey Mike's and Elizabeth drove through the rain to Woodland and a night at the Quality Inn.

3/13/2023 Elizabeth and I awoke and after our morning routine, walked over to Black Bear Diner for a great breakfast. After checking out and loading the car, we drove CA Highway 113 to Yuba City, passing through Knights Landing on the way there. We made our first depot stop at Gridley.

The freight portion of the California and Oregon Railroad (predecessor to Southern Pacific) station in Gridley, built in 1870 and owned by the Lions Club. We made our way to Durham.

Southern Pacific Durham station built in 1913. This is another station where just the freight portion remains.

There is a Red Rooster Cafe beside the station. I drove us from here to Paradise and our next station.

Southern Pacific Paradise station built in 1904.

The plaque on the station building.

Butte County Railroad caboose is really Santa Fe caboose 990025, nee Santa Fe 1904, built by American Car and Foundry in 1930.

Butte County Railroad display board. The Butte County Railroad was a 31.5-mile class II railroad that ran from a connection with the Southern Pacific Railroad at Chico, California to the Diamond Match Company lumber mill at Stirling City. The railroad operated from 1903–1915 and then became the Southern Pacific's Stirling City Branch. From 1915 until abandonment in the 1970's, the line was operated as the Southern Pacific's Stirling City Branch. The Chico and Northern Railroad was a non-operating subsidiary holding company of the Southern Pacific Railroad that was created to acquire a 32.31 mile line from Chico–Stirling City from the Butte County Railroad. Upon acquiring the line, Chico & Northern immediately leased the line back to the Butte County Railroad. The Chico & Northern was dissolved into Southern Pacific in 1912 and never operated any of the line.


The Butte County Railroad was granted a franchise on November 11, 1902 and incorporated on February 24, 1903 or March 2, 1903. Construction of the line commenced in April 1903 and seven months later, on November 1, 1903, service commenced between Barber (1 mile south of Chico) and Magalia. The line was built using 75 pound rails and with grades as steep as 3.75 precent.

The Chico & Northern was incorporated on November 11, 1903. Within a month of reaching Magalia, on November 27, 1903, the line was sold to the Southern Pacific Railroad via SP's non-operating subsidiary holding company the Chico and Northern Railroad. Southern Pacific's Chico and Northern Railroad immediately leased the line back to the Butte County Railroad for operation. A year after commencing construction the line was operating all the way to Stirling City and completed on April 15, 1904.

The Chico & Northern Railroad was finally dissolved into Southern Pacific on February 29, 1912. The line was then conveyed to SP's sister company, the Central Pacific Railway. In 1914 the line was conveyed from CP back to the SP. The Butte County Railroad's lease with SP expired on November 30, 1915. The Butte County Railroad was dissolved two months later on January 21, 1916 at which point the line became the Stirling City Branch and was operated by the Southern Pacific Railroad.

I next drove us Magalia but found no station, which was a restaurant and Elizabeth found on the Internet that it was destroyed by a forest fire in June 2017. She then drove back to the flatlands where I took over and drove to the Turtle Bay Museum in Redding for a steam engine, but found it closed Mondays and Tuesdays during the winter. So Elizabeth next drove us north through the rain and then snow ploughed on the side of the road in Mount Shasta City and rain on Siskiyou Summit down into Medford, Oregon. We had linner at Carl's Junior before checking into the Quality Inn for the night.

3/14/2023 We arose and went to Elmer's where we both had a very good breakfast. We checked our various Internet sites before Elizabeth drove us north through light rain and once on one of the higher divides, a mixture of rain and snowflakes. At Roseburg, we stopped at the Douglas County Museum for some pictures at this closed museum.

A Southern Pacific semaphore signal.

Oregon and California Railroad coach 3001 built in 1883, rebuilt to Southern Pacific combine 1024.

Southern Pacific Dillard station, constructed in 1882. With the rain stopping, I then drove us north to Sutherlin where we passed an eastbound Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad freight train and we exited Interstate 5 and were in chase mode.

Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad 4301 East south of Sutherlin.

Portland and Western SD70M-2 4301, ex. First Union Rail Leasing 102, nee Florida East Coast 102 built by Electro-Motive Division in 2006.

Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad SD70M 4677, ex. CSX 4677, nee Electro-Motive Division Demonstrator 7002 built in 1992.

Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad SD70M 4675, ex CSX 4675, Electro-Motive Division Demonstration 7000 built in 1992.

Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad SD40 3498, ex. 564109 B.C. Ltd. {JLCX} 6975, exx. Railway Service Contractors 6975, exxx. BNSF 6975, exxxx. BNSF 7315, nee Canadian National 5105 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1969.

The consist going away down the track. I next drove us to the Office Covered Bridge in Westfir, Oregon.

Office Covered Bridge built in 1945 by the Westfir Lumber Company and spans the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. It connected the Westfir Lumber Company mill to the main office. It measures 180 feet in length, making it the longest covered bridge in the state of Oregon. Its length also made it one of the only two bridges in the state to use tripe Howe truss engineering. A distinct feature of the bridge is the covered walkway, which allowed people safe access across without being in the way of loaded log trucks.

The interior of the bridge.

Westfir Then display board.

Westfir Oregon History display board.

Westfir Now display board.

West Cascade National Scenic Byway display board. Elizabeth then drove us into Oakridge where we went to the post office and purchased the newly-released Historic Railroad Station stamps and mailed some letters before stopping at a store for a candy bar for me; Elizabeth had the remainder of the one from yesterday. She then drove us to the Shanico Inn in Lebanon where we were given Room 121. I watched my Pittsbugh Penguins lose 5-4 to those Montreal Canadiens before we walked to the Apple Tree Restaurant for dinner and then I wrote today's story while Elizabeth watched one of her television program on her laptop.

3/15/2023 We awoke at the hotel and after our Internet duties, checked out and went to McDonald's for breakfast, after which I drove us through Corvallis and then took Oregon Highway 34 to the last covered bridge that we needed.

Hayden Covered Bridge spanning the Alsea River two miles west of Alsea; and is one of the oldest in the state. The span was either partially or totally rebuilt in 1945. Its portals, once rounded in design, have been enlarged to a more modern design to facilitate larger loads. Vertical board and batten siding flares out at the base, similar to Lincoln County covered spans. A daylighting window strip below the roofline on both sides of the bridge illuminates the interior. Alsea was a river community as early as 1850, known as Alseya Settlement. The name is derived from the name of an Indian tribe living at the mouth of the river, originally pronounced in three syllables.

The interior of the bridge.

The plaque. From here I drove us down US Highway 101 to Coos Bay where I parked almost in front of this museum.

Oregon Coast Historic Railway

As our motto suggests, we're working to preserve an important part of the region's history by providing a place to restore and display vintage railroad and logging equipment. Our museum and display area is located at 766 South First Street in Coos Bay. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays. Admission free but donations are requested and appreciated.

About the display area

It's official! Our signature piece – Baldwin steam locomotive 104 — is 100 years old this year! It was built in 1922 and delivered to the Coos Bay Logging Co., and served in the region's logging industry until the 1950s. We have restored it to historically-accurate condition, and it can be viewed at our display area and museum at 766 S. First Street in Coos Bay.

Also restored a 1949 Alco S-2 diesel switcher engine that was used at the International Paper sawmill and paper plant up the coast in Gardiner. Members and volunteers cleaned and painted engine No. 111 in its Gardiner shed before it was moved to our Coos Bay display area on Nov. 17, 2006.

In the summer of 2007, we acquired former Southern Pacific caboose No. 1134, which was used on the Coos Bay-Eugene and Eugene-Klamath Falls runs. Restoration continues on the 1942-era steel caboose in our display area.

In the summer of 2009 we purchased former Burlington Northern caboose No. 11269 from a private collector in the Hood River area. The 1946-era wooden caboose was placed on the display area's tracks behind the former SP caboose, and was extensively renovated but the elements have taken their toll and new exterior siding must be installed.

In the spring of 2010 we acquired "Old Yellow: engine No. 099, a 16-ton "car mover" or yard engine built in 1928 by Plymouth Locomotive. This little unit has quite a history, starting its career working on the construction of the Panama Canal. Later it was used in the construction of Bonneville Dam. In 1958 the government sold the locomotive to Harvey Aluminum (later Northwest Aluminum), which used it as a plant switcher for their facility at The Dalles until 1979. The locomotive was donated to The Dalles Chamber of Commerce in 1990 and placed on display near their office. Following their decision to donate the engine to our group, we raised funds to pay for the move to Coos Bay.

Other equipment and large artifacts have been donated to our group, along with hundreds of photographs, newspaper articles and other material known in train fan lingo as railroadiana. Even two conductors uniforms!

The display area was provided by the City of Coos Bay and our group obtained several grants and a great number of donations too.

Next on the agenda is to construct shelters to protect our equipment. Engineered plans have been completed and we're hopeful that grants and donations will provide construction funding.

We continue to seek support from local civic and service organizations, federal and state agencies, private and public corporations, local and regional businesses, granting agencies and private foundations, and from individuals.

The collection

Coos Bay Lumber Company 2-8-2 104 built by Baldwin in 1922 and hauled logs from Powers and Fairview area to the mill in Coos Bay from 1923 to 1954. In 1956 it was sold to Georgia Pacific as their 3 and moved north up the coast to Toledo, until 1960 when it was donated to Coos-Curry Historical Museum in North Bend.

The museum group, later called the Coos County Historical Society, cared for the locomotive for the following 33 years. The engine and tender became a welcome fixture at the northern entrance to North Bend. A cyclone fence kept people off the locomotive, and a large wooden structure protected it from the elements. A sound system was installed, and visitors could push a button to play a recording of 104's whistle.

The Oregon Coast chapter of the National Railway Historical Society was formed and incorporated in 1982 by a small group of local railroad enthusiasts. The group's plan at that time was to acquire and restore No. 104 and operate an excursion between Coos Bay and Coquille. The group conducted a hydrostatic test of the locomotive to determine the boiler's ability to hold pressure. They also acquired a caboose (the former Southern Pacific No. 1179) and restored it. The group's excursion plans fell through, however, when an agreement between Southern Pacific and the Historical Society could not be reached as to ownership of the locomotive and operating rights on the track. The caboose was sold to The Caboose Lady coffee shop in Coquille. It changed hands again in 2007, and was moved to its current home at the KOA campground in Hauser, north of the Bay Area.

Over the years, the railroad group remained fairly inactive, but continued to hold meetings and share rail interests. New members in the mid 1990's took renewed interest in restoring 104 and possibly offering excursions. Meantime, the Coos County Historical Society began planning to build a new museum in Coos Bay. It was felt that the new facility would not have room to accommodate the steam locomotive, and that the railroad group could help continue the long-term preservation of 104. As a result, on October 29, 1999, the Historical Society turned over the steam engine to the railroad group and in 2001, arrived into Coos Bay.

Interior of Coos Bay Lumber Company 2-8-2 104.

Southern Pacific caboose 1134 built by the railroad in 1942. It was used betwen Klamath Falls Eugene and Coos Bay and was modified several times before being sold to Rich Schneider and the museum acquired it in 2007.

Burlington Northern caboose 11269, nee Spokane, Portland and Seattle 853, built by the Great Northern in 1946. It worked on mainlines and branches from Astoria to Sweethome. The SP&S leased it to Georgia Pacific in 1970 and re-numbered it 11269. The SP&S merged with Georgia Pacific in 1979 and the caboose was sold to a collector then it was used as a break shack by orchard workers in the Hood River area and acquired by the museum in 2009.

Longview, Portland and Northern S2 111 built by American Locomotive Company in 1949 for Longview, Portland and Northern Railroad, which served Long-Bell Lumber Company sawmills around the Pacific Northwest. Long-Bell was later sold to International Paper Company. It spent its entire career in Gardiner, Oregon.

There were at least two other locomotives in the Gardiner division, but as operations wound down in the late 1980's and early 1990's, it was one of only two engines in use at the paper plant and mill. Citing reasons ranging from diminishing domestic timber supplies to an economic downturn in Asia, International Paper first shut down the sawmill, then closed the paper plant in 1998. There was some hope the paper plant might open again, but as the first few years of the 21st century passed, it became clear the company would no longer be part of the local scene. Both the sprawling sawmill and the labyrinthine paper plant were gradually dismantled, leaving few traces today of the once-bustling operation.

Meantime, International Paper graciously donated engine 111 to our group and allowed us to store the engine in its original shed on the former mill site. Members and volunteers took on the task of performing routine maintenance, as well as cleaning and preparing the locomotive for a new coat of paint. In its later years of service, it wore LP&N's yellow and black colors, but a decision was made to repaint the locomotive with OCHR's orange and blue color motif. In addition, new lettering proclaimed its new ownership, "Oregon Coast Historical Railway." The engine retains its original 111 designation, and additional lettering identifies its former status as part of International Paper's LP&N fleet.

"Old Yellow," 16 ton switcher 099 built by Plymouth Locomotive in 1928. It started its career working on the construction of the Panama Canal and later was used in the construction of Bonneville Dam. In 1958 the government sold the locomotive to Harvey Aluminum (later Northwest Aluminum), which used it as a plant switcher for their facility at The Dalles until 1979. The locomotive was donated to The Dalles Chamber of Commerce in 1990 and placed on display near their office. Following their decision to donate the engine to our group, we raised funds to pay for the move to Coos Bay.

Union Pacific caboose 25806 built by International Car in 1979.

George H. Chaney Logging Company 25 ton steam-powered crane built by Ohio Locomotive Crane Company in 1927 to 1933. It later worked on the Tacoma Municapal Belt Line Railroad then went to Camp 6 in Tacoma, Washington in 1975 until its demise. It was sold to a collector and acquired by this museum in 2012.

Point Defiance, Quinault and Klickitat Railroad 20 ton swicher 20DM46 40133, ex. Roots of Motive Power, exx. Boise-Cascade, exx. West Tacoma Newsprint, nee Lousiana Ship Yards 1, built by Whitcomb in 1927.

The bridge tender shed from North Bend.

Snug Harbor 2-6-2 262 built by Coffman Mianature Locomotive Works in Flagstaff in 1946. It originally operated in San Fernando as the "Sunland Limited", was acquired by Leonard Hall of "Charleston Fire Station" then sold in 1960 to Alton and Baber Railroad in Willits, California. It was sold in 1988 to Dry Creek Vineyards and Albert Alberg of Heraldsburg, and acquired by the museum in 2014.

Snug Harbor gondola 21958.

Snug Harbor caboose 247. One of the volunteers opened the gate, Elizabeth came in and I went out for some pictures.

Coos Bay Rail Line GP38-3 2020, ex. Western Rail Incorporated, exx. Kettle Falls International GP35 4508, exxx. Wallowa Union Railroad Authority 4508, exxxx. Idaho Northern & Pacific Railroad 4508, exxxxxx. Wheeling and Erie 2657, exxxxxx. Norfolk Southern 2657, nee Southern 2657 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1965.

Coos Bay Rail Line GP38-3 1916 ex. Western Rail, exx. 564109 B.C. Ltd. {JLCX} 3510, exxx. Northern Plains Railroad 3510, exxxx. Great Smokey Mountains Railroad 210, nee Norfolk and Western 210, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1963,

Both of these great engines.

Southern Pacific baggage car 67xx built by Pacific Car and Foundry in 1962.

Coos Bay Rail Line MP15DC 1859, ex. Western Rail 1384, exx. Union Pacific Y1384, exxx. Union Pacific 1384, nee Missouri Pacific 1384, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1982.

The great two locomotives. After acquiring a magnet and mug from the gift shop at the museum, I drove us north to near Florence where we found a steam engine.

Fist there was a wigwag crossing signal.

Marble Cliff Quarries 2-4-0T 12, nee Marble Cliff Quarries 0-4-0T 23 built by American Locomotive Company in 1916. The company, headquartered in Upper Arlington, Ohio, operated the largest limestone quarry in the United States from its opening in the mid-19th century until its sale in about 1985. At some point, it was re-numbered 12 and ended its working life in Bluffton, Indiana, where it was sold to Donald Davis in Poneto, Indiana, some time in the 1960's. Originally a tank engine, the tanks were scrapped after it was bought by Al Foglio in 1983, and a front truck was added for display purposes.

Tri-color signal 7449. From here Elizabeth drove us north to Heceta Head Lighthouse. Perched atop 1,000-foot-high Heceta Head, the lighthouse is one of the most photographed on the coast. The light atop the 56-foot tower was first illuminated in 1894. Its automated beacon, seen 21 miles from land, is rated as the strongest light on the Oregon coast. A half-mile trail to the lighthouse begins in the parking area and passes the lightkeeper's house on its way up to the lighthouse and viewpoint. Oregon State Parks charges five dollars to park here.

The highway bridge we crossed then went under.

Looking down the coast, you can see Sea Lions Cave building on that point.

Lightkeeper's House.

Information about the Lightkeeper's House. We then walked the trail to the lighthouse.

Heceta Head Lighthouse.

Ancillary buildings.

Looking south down the coast.

The rock right below.

The rock north of the lighthouse.

The view south once again.

One more lighthouse view.

Elizabeth with the lighthouse.

The author at the lighthouse. We stopped by the gift shop before we left, acquiring a magnet and mug. Elizabeth drove us to Newport where we had dinner at the Steak and Seafood Restuarant which was excellent, with ice cream for dessert, before checking into the Days Inn for the night.